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Bosch and Microsoft tie-up will see cars download software from the cloud, at scale.

"Over-the-air updates to entire vehicle fleets"

Germany's Bosch has agreed a deal with Microsoft to develop automotive-specific software modules that can be developed and downloaded to "control units and vehicle computers" from the cloud (Azure) at scale.

“Bosch already securely updates car software over the air today. With the comprehensive platform for software-defined cars, we want to further empower automakers to develop new functions and get them on the road faster,” Dr Markus Heyn, a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH said.

The tie-up comes as the cloud hyperscalers increasingly eye deep relationships with large automotive companies. On January 21, 2021, for example, Google Cloud signed a six-year deal with Ford that will see Ford and Lincoln vehicles' "infotainment" and other systems powered by Android, with Google apps and services built-in.

More on the manufacturing side, VW has teamed up with AWS to link what will eventually be 120 VW factories around the world to the automaker's 1,500 suppliers and their 30,000 plants. Their "Industrial Cloud" will be used to exchange data and software to help accelerate the digitalisation of factory processes. Eleven  partners are already making their software applications available via hub too, including Siemens. (The resulting hub will "avoid the need for inefficient in-house development of specialized applications", VW said in July 2020.

Credit: Bosch.

Bosch and Microsoft deal

Software will play an increasingly important role in future vehicle generations, Microsoft and Bosch noted today, adding that driverless cars and modern mobility services would not be possible without it: "This will also require more frequent updates and upgrades in the future. However, stringent safety requirements throughout the vehicle’s lifetime make wireless software updates and digital services for cars very complex. The wide range of different series and models makes things even more challenging", Bosch said.

Scott Guthrie, EVP, Cloud + AI, Microsoft added in a canned release. “With software quickly becoming a key differentiator in the automotive industry, our ambition is to help businesses accelerate the delivery of unique mobility services across passenger cars and commercial fleets at scale.”

"The collaboration will benefit from Bosch’s deep understanding of electrical and electronic architectures, control units, and vehicle computers, which is necessary for over-the-air vehicle updates. In addition, the company will contribute its expertise as well as software-based products and development tools for cars. This includes the basic software and middleware for vehicle computers and control units, as well as cloud-based software modules to bring over-the-air updates to entire vehicle fleets", the two said in a joint statement.

“Having a comprehensive software platform from the vehicle to the cloud will reduce the complexity of the software development and the vehicle system integration. In this way we will create the conditions for wireless updates to work just as smoothly and conveniently in vehicles as they do in smartphones,” Dr Heyn added.

See also: Kia Motors hit by huge IT outage. Ransomware attack unconfirmed.